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Dizziness &

Imbalance

The inner ear has several important jobs. In addition to hearing, the inner ear’s vestibular system is your primary organ of balance.

Causes of Dizziness

Problems with this system can cause dizziness and imbalance. Fortunately, these problems can often be identified and treated. Hearing & Balance Specialists of Kansas City is one of the few specialty clinics in Kansas City, MO that has a specific focus on these disorders.

Dizziness can be very unsettling and may include any number of sensations including spinning (vertigo), blurred vision with head movement, disorientation, and feeling faint. Unfortunately, dizziness is the most common complaint heard in doctors’ offices. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), dizziness will occur in up to 70% of individuals at some point in their lives. There are a large number of conditions that can cause dizziness, including:

1

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

BPPV is the most common cause of dizziness. In fact, 50% of people will experience BPPV at some point. BPPV is caused by a change in the inner ear’s perception of gravity, which leads to a spinning sensation when changing position. These episodes of spinning are very brief, but individuals may also notice a general sense of lightheadedness or imbalance. BPPV is one of the most easily treated vestibular disorders.

2

Vestibular Neuritis

This condition is characterized by an intense attack of vertigo that lasts for hours to days. Vestibular neuritis is caused by a viral infection of the nerve leading to the vestibular system (an inner ear infection). Unfortunately, this condition can cause permanent inner ear damage, which can cause lasting symptoms of dizziness and imbalance. This condition and the damage it leaves behind can be identified through comprehensive testing. With an accurate diagnosis, lingering symptoms can be resolved.

3

Labyrinthitis

Labyrinthitis is caused by a viral or bacterial infection of the inner ear itself; this would also be considered an inner ear infection. The spinning dizziness that accompanies this condition is identical to that observed with vestibular neuritis (persists for hours to days). Interestingly, labyrinthitis is characterized by hearing loss on the side with damage.

4

Meniere’s Disease

This condition causes fluctuating hearing, vertigo attacks lasting from approximately 30 minutes to 24 hours, tinnitus on the affected side, and a sensation of fullness in the ear. The inner ear is comprised of two distinct fluids that are separated by a delicate membrane; these fluids should not mix. Meniere’s disease is caused by too much inner ear fluid, which can cause a rupture of the inner ear’s membranes and a mixing of the fluid. This condition usually happens in attacks over time, and it can be progressive. There are effective management strategies that can be utilized to treat this condition.

5

Vestibular Migraine

Migraines are caused by a disruption in blood flow and the way neurons are firing in the brain. Although typically characterized by intense headache, sensitivity to light and sound, and nausea, migraines can also cause dizziness and vertigo. Migraines are also highly associated with inner ear disorders. If an accurate diagnosis is made, this condition is often very treatable.

6

Imbalance

Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths in the elderly. Unfortunately, 1 in 3 people over the age of 70 will fall each year. Often a fall will result in serious injury including head trauma, a broken hip, etc. Feeling off balance and having a fear of falling can also cause an individual to avoid their regular activities and become socially isolated. If you have fallen or have a fear of falling, you should highly consider a formal evaluation with a specialist in equilibrium disorders. Falls can often be prevented once a cause is accurately identified.

Hearing & Balance Specialists of Kansas City provides expert evaluation and treatment of complex balance disorders, which often originate from the vestibular system in the inner ear. Please contact us to schedule an appointment.

Vestibular Evaluation
and Treatment

Hearing & Balance Specialists of Kansas City specializes in the evaluation of issues causing dizziness and balance problems.

We not only have the most experience in these evaluations, but we also have state-of-the-art equipment. An evaluation may include any or all of the following tests:

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Gans Sensory Organizational Performance Test

This test allows your audiologist to identify the cause of your imbalance. It helps define your fall risk and what treatment is most appropriate in managing your problem.

Computerized Dynamic Visual Acuity Testing
(CD-VAT) 

CD-VAT analyzes how the vestibular system responds to rapid head movement. It also evaluates the intricate connection between the inner ear and eye movements.

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE)

Are used to evaluate the health of the inner ear’s sensory cells, which are called hair cells. This test helps an audiologist decide if an issue is coming from the inner ear or the nerve attached to the ear.

Audiometric Testing

Audiometric testing evaluates hearing. During your dizziness/balance exam, your audiologist will often evaluate your hearing. The hearing and balance portions of the inner ear share fluids, nerves, and a blood supply. Many vestibular disorders will also have characteristic hearing loss patterns that a patient may not perceive.

Video Head Impulse Test (vHIT)

This is a test that utilizes high-speed googles to track and measure rapid eye movements. 

Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potential (VEMP) 

VEMP testing analyzes the inner ear’s balance organs and the nerve pathway that sends this information out to the rest of the body.

Videonystagmography Testing (VNG) 

This test is compromised of several subtests and helps differentiate between a peripheral (ear) or central (brain) cause to an individual’s dizziness. VNG testing can identify positional vertigo and permanent ear damage. It utilizes very sensitive video goggles to analyze a patient’s eye movements in various conditions.

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)

This test measures the health of the nerve pathways between the hearing organ and brainstem. Often an issue in this area can cause hearing loss on one side, tinnitus on one side, and/or dizziness.

Rotational Chair Assessment 

Hearing and Balance is one of few sites in Missouri/Kansas that has this specialized piece of equipment. It evaluates an important connection between ears and eyes, called the vestibulo-ocular reflex.

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Dizziness and balance disorders can be very troubling and bother a patient for years. Fortunately, Hearing & Balance Specialists of Kansas City has the most highly trained and experienced vestibular audiologists in the region.

The most important part of a successful treatment is first having an accurate diagnosis. We have seen countless patients who are simply not improving after treatment, which is often caused by an incomplete or inaccurate evaluation. Once the causes of a patient’s issues are found, treatment is very effective.
 

The hallmark of an inner ear disorder is that it is treatable. When we identify the underlying problem, we can get you the help you need and resolve your symptoms. We only use state-of-the art, current, and scientifically proven treatment methods. If your problem does not fit within the scope of what we treat, we also have a wide referral network, so we can quickly get you the help you need. You do not have to learn to live with dizziness or imbalance.
 

Hearing & Balance Specialists of Kansas City provides expert evaluation and treatment of complex balance disorders, which often originate from the vestibular system in the inner ear. Please contact us to schedule an appointment.

Hearing & Balance Specialists of Kansas City provides expert evaluation and treatment of complex balance disorders, which often originate from the vestibular system in the inner ear.


Hearing & Balance Specialists provides several treatment options, such as Vestibular Physical Therapy.

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